Mediation is often a successful option for resolving a divorce case without going through a trial. It is the preferred settlement method for many divorce attorneys because it allows the parties to determine their fate, rather than a Judge. You can see details about the mediation process HERE. Though the mediator has no decision-making authority over your case, he/she can often help guide the case to resolution. In spite of this, choosing the right mediator for your case may actually help the settlement process.
There are several things to consider in choosing a mediator. First, research the mediator’s experience in your county and with your Judge. Experienced mediators have likely seen it all when it comes to divorce mediation. As such, they will know what a particular Judge is likely to do in certain situations. For example, consider a couple fighting over a child support deviation. The mediator may know that the Judge assigned to the case does not often deviate from amount calculated on the child support worksheets. The mediator could, in turn, tell the party requesting the deviation that he/she is unlikely to get it if the case goes to court, which could result in a quick settlement on that particular issue.
Another thing to consider is the personality of your mediator. Some mediators are stronger than others, really pushing the parties to come to a resolution. Others are more passive, just taking offers back and forth like a middleman. In addition, there are extremely creative mediators who think outside the box to help the parties come up with solutions to resolve the case. Choosing a passive mediator when you need an aggressive one, or vice versa, can actually hinder the settlement of your case at mediation.
On that same note, you also need to consider your personality and that of your spouse. Some people do not react well to a mediator really pushing them to compromise on certain issues and may become turned off on the idea of settlement. (These people are the ones who actually usually need the push!) Other people may not be open to the idea of working with one gender or the other. For example, if a wife has been cheated on by her husband, she may have trust issues with men and not feel comfortable opening up to a male mediator. For the same reasons that a person prefers a female or male doctor, many people feel more comfortable opening up to one gender over the other.
All this being said, you and your spouse (through attorneys, if you have them) must jointly agree upon a mediator. You will likely benefit from trusting your attorney in his/her mediator selection as he/she has likely done hundreds of mediations. Your attorney knows you best and will do all that he/she can to get a mediator that has the best chance of fully settling the case at mediation.